Author: Brandeis, Louis D.
Title: Speech on Suffrage at Tremont Temple in Boston, October 12, 1915.
Publisher: Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Library, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
Louis D. Brandeis (1856 – 1941), President Wilson's chief economic adviser from 1912 until 1916, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His cousins, Albert and Dr. Florence Brandeis, were strong suffrage activists in Louisville. Working as a lawyer in Boston, Louis Brandeis became known as the “people’s attorney” for his involvement in social justice movements and workers' rights. His successful case in 1908 for women workers in the case of Muller v. Oregon limiting them to a 10-hour work day began a series of progressive workplace laws. He had gathered a preponderance of scientific evidence of social conditions in what has become known today as the "Brandeis Brief." Using broad-based legal arguments, taking into consideration social and historical facts, this strategy has been used many other times over the years by progressive activists, including in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 that desgregated public schools. Despite what his opponents called his "radicalism" and constantly fighting against blatant anti-semitism, he was successfully appointed an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States in 1916, serving to 1939.
This speech was given at a popular location for the public meetings of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association and took place before the great suffrage parade in Boston on October 16, 1915, that was to rally support behind a state referendum scheduled for November 2nd. The referendum for women's full suffrage rights was defeated and Massachusetts remained as a state restricting women to school suffrage until the 19th Amendment in August 1920. He spoke in this speech of his change of heart about women's right to the vote. He believed that, in a democracy, women as a "class or section of the community" needed to be able to govern rather than be governed by male voters and representatives. See more about his ideas about American democracy and role of women in Goldstein, Joel K. (2017) "Justice Brandeis and Civic Duty in a Pluralistic Society," Touro Law Review: Vol. 33 : No. 1 , Article 7. Available at: https://digitalcommons.tourolaw.edu/lawreview/vol33/iss1/7